German Protestants disagree on arms supply to Ukraine


Central Europe


The "Demokratychna Sokyra" (Democratic Axe) support a rally at a central square in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 30 January 2022. People gather to express their thanks to several countries for supplying Ukraine with weapons and supporting Ukraine when Russian troops concentrated near the Ukrainian border. Photo EPA, Zurab Kurtsikidze

In Eastern Europe, the danger of an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia looms. Should Germany support Ukraine with arms supplies or not? The question of arms deliveries has been extremely sensitive in Germany since the Second World War.

Earlier this week, the German Protestant news agency IDEA had two Protestant church representatives speak on this issue. Pastor Steffen Reiche from Berlin declared to be in favour of arms deliveries. He pointed out that Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible for numerous armed conflicts, such as the conquest of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Ukraine needs defensive weapons against the “the tsar from Moscow”, he said.

The co-founder of the Social Democratic Party in the former German Democratic Republic (1949-1990), who was also Minister of the Social Democratic SPD party in the state Brandenburg from 1994 to 2004, also recalled the German invasion during the Second World War of Ukraine in 1941. The fact that Germany recently supplied “only 5,000 helmets” against the Russian air force is unparalleled in cynicism, he stated.


The Peace Commissioner of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Friedrich Kramer from Magdeburg, is the opposing position. According to him, arms deliveries would only lead to a further escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Arms exports to regions do not contribute to stabilisation, Kramer thinks. They would lead to further armament on both sides, arms build-up and new threat scenarios. “This must be prevented,” he said. Therefore, the regional Bishop supports the German government’s position not to supply weapons to Ukraine and instead seek negotiated solutions.

Kramer admonishes: “Let us stop listening to only rhetoric of war”. He said it was essential to take a sober look at Russia’s security interests and, at the same time, take the concerns of the people in Ukraine seriously.

Second World War

Since the end of the Second World War, military aid and arms supplies to foreign countries have been extremely sensitive in Germany – an issue that does not pass churches by. German reticence is inseparable from the ever-present trauma of the Second World War. Millions of Russians lost their lives in concentration camps and the fight against the advancing German army. It also applies to Ukraine, which at the time was still part of the Soviet Union.

The Germans still carry the guilt of the indescribable suffering they caused in both countries. It explains their reticence when the rest of Europe talks about military aid to Ukraine. Only 1 in 5 Germans think that supplying weapons is good, even if they are only used for defensive purposes.



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